These days I honestly try to avoid Voodoo games. It's nothing personal, I've just played many, many of the games Voodoo have made, and have found very, very few of them worth talking about. Which is why it is insane to me that I'm even typing this.
Hyper-casual games are those free to play mobile games you play, they look simple, often completely lack music or audio, and are filled with ads for other mobile games that are similar. These are made to be downloaded, played for a few hours, and then uninstalled as you get another, similar game.
It's a cycle, not a great cycle, but a cycle nonetheless. And, wouldn't you know it, Voodoo's latest and perhaps very best game has a cycle in it. A motorcycle. Also a cycle of ads, as usual, but the motorcycle is definitely more interesting here. Also, it's more a quad bike, but let me have this one.
In Scribble Rider you draw the tyres of your motorcycle as it speeds towards the goal - and this is by far the best game Voodoo has made yet.
Motorcycle goes brr
Scribble Rider starts at the line, you face off against another player, and it's your goal to get to the finish before they do. Except your quadbike is lacking tyres, which are pretty important for moving forward.
In a tiny box at the bottom of the screen, you're to sketch out wheels with your finger, and those wheels will appear on your bike. It's as simple as that, and wouldn't you know it, it just works.
You draw a very uneven circle, and just like that, those circles appear as wheels allowing you to propel yourself towards the finish line. Combine this with a variety of floors which all offer varying levels of traction, and you've got a pretty amazing game in the making, honestly.
Ice, water, stairs, sheer cliffs, and more change the kind of wheels you need for the situation, and there's almost always a better way to do it. What's best about Scribble Rider is that you can make wheels out of literally any shape you draw - even if that "shape" is just a straight line, a zig-zag, or a complete mess.
It all means you'll be changing your wheels on the fly for the best use case as you shoot ahead of your CPU rivals. It's a damn engaging time, making it easily one of the best games that Voodoo has ever published on mobile. So why don't Voodoo just always make good games?
Why not just make a good game?
Voodoo has a business model. There's a reason that Scribble Rider delivers you an ad in between almost every single stage and reset. We've spoken about it before, the cycle of ads that keep businesses like Voodoo in the money, and Scribble Rider is a part of that cycle.
But, isn't that wholly depressing and demoralising? Sorry, this is partially turning into an open letter to Voodoo and other hyper-casual game developers, but making a game solely for the purpose of it being used and deleted as quickly as it was downloaded is wasteful, for a start, and also shows zero faith in your own creations.
Scribble Rider is genuinely great, genuinely the kind of game I would pay money for, I would happily download it as part of Apple Arcade, Google Play Pass, or even pay for it separately on Nintendo Switch. I would pay for Scribble Rider, and Voodoo would rather I didn't. Yes, there's an option to pay to never see ads again, but there's a reason Voodoo has devalued the game before it even released by making it an ad-supported free to play title hidden away on the App Store. It fits into their cycle.
If Scribble Rider was given some simple background music, actual sound effects, and a bunch more levels, it could be poised as an excellent puzzle racing game hybrid. Heck, introduce some short procedurally generated stages, add an actual online player to compete against, and you have a great multiplayer title that would keep me coming back time and time again. If Scribble Rider was given the effort it deserves, it would be one of the best mobile games I've played this year. But instead, it looks and feels as cheap as any other Voodoo game.
Voodoo and other hyper-casual game developers have probably struck gold a few times and developed some amazingly addictive and fun games, but you wouldn't know, because they've been washed away by time, hidden in the mobile marketplaces, and entirely forgotten. Games like Scribble Rider deserve better than this, and if Voodoo wanted to escape the permanent hell that is the ad cycle in hyper-casual mobile development, they would put some real effort into polishing gems like this. Let's hope they eventually decide to do so.